My youngest sister experimented with drugs from her early-teens, dressed provocatively, etc. Our whole family was relieved when a really nice guy became her boyfriend.
But she cheated on him repeatedly through high school, and even after they married when both 21. They divorced four years later. He couldn’t take it any more.
Now 42, she’s still in-and-out of relationships, volatile when she thinks her partner’s cheating (some have), or looking elsewhere if her life gets “too calm.”
She’s finally met her match, a strong-minded guy who keeps suggesting they get involved in group sex. She agreed in order to hang onto him, then backed out and had to be restrained physically by my other sister who’d dropped by unexpectedly.
This same man tells her that he loves her but clearly adds that he’s “not a one-woman-guy.” She’s telling everyone that they’re going to get married… and deluding herself that he’ll be faithful.
I fear the next blow-up will be the worst, that she’ll react violently and police may be called. Or that she’ll have a breakdown when he leaves.
He’s not the type to put up long with heavy drama.
I’m the older brother whom the family expects to look after her. What can I do?
My Sister’s Protector
She’s 42 and needs a professional therapist helping her learn to protect herself. She’s so used to thinking she’ll be “saved” by others that she keeps playing with fire.
Say that you love her but can’t respect her choices. She repeatedly puts herself in danger, gaining neither wisdom nor self-respect from her experiences. Be firm that unless she gets into a process of counselling sessions, she’ll have to rely on herself when next in trouble for behaving aggressively.
Then, offer to go with her for the first one or two sessions, so that she understands that you’re supporting her this time in the only way that can save her from herself.
My husband and I, together for 20 years, have three children.
He’s become very toxic: Game addicted, porn addicted, explosive anger, never grown up. I can’t talk back to him. He broke our wall; I’ve shut up since. He’s uninvolved in family life, off by himself playing video games.
I had serious health issues while putting up with his abuse, his sexual fantasies and raising children all alone.
I caught him inappropriately engaging with a 20-year-old woman. He says he forgot he was married and has children.
I risked my life and confronted him with evidence.
It’s time to end this marriage. I’m done being threatened about my every action and statement.
He’s trying to change but I’m too tired. I don’t want to trap him. He can go date girls half our age and fulfill his fantasy life. Separation’s better for both of us.
But what about the kids?
“What about the kids?” is the decisive litmus test of your motivation to separate. The answer is: Abuse is more harmful.
His threats and outbursts at you affect the children, too. There’s already no closeness between them and their father, according to your account.
Twenty years of you being afraid to speak up, of raising kids alone while your husband indulges in cheating, fantasies, and addictions, is far too long.
Get family counselling during the separation process, even if he won’t go with you and the children. Mediation can also help you two come to the most workable child custody arrangements and limitations regarding his behaviour.
FEEDBACK Regarding the widow who’s new live-in-partner wants legal rights to stay in her house if she pre-deceases him (July 10):
Reader – “My husband passed away two-and-a-half years ago. His sister was never nice and became worse over time.
However I chose not to be “that person” who’s vindictive in death. I’ve chosen to end my life as I lived it, being kind. She’ll stay in my will.
“I’m now in a budding relationship. He has children. Should we progress, I intend to have a pre-nup agreement protecting his children should he predecease me.
“If the letter-writer’s partner of two years never contributed to the actual purchase of her home, he shouldn’t get a free ride after such a short time together.
She should give him a year to stay after her death. That's very fair.
“I’d wonder about a guy who’s asking these questions after only two years of living together.”
Tip of the day:
Separating a family is a tough decision. But accepting physical/emotional abuse, fear, and cheating is worse.